Immigration has again become a heated topic in Hong Kong, with country names such as the UK, Turkey, Portugal and Ireland frequently arise in discussions. These countries are often favored by high-net-worth individuals, as they all offer immigrant investor programs with some of the following features, short government processing time, easily met residency requirements and no quota limit.
UK Tier 1 Investor Visa
UK Tier 1 Investor Visa is a conventional choice that gives applicants quick access to UK resident status. The minimum processing time of a Tier 1 investor visa application is 3 months only, while the earliest time when the holders can apply for UK permanent residency depends on the amount of investment they have made to obtain this visa.
For applicants investing GBP 10 million, they can apply to settle after 2 years. However, those who have invested GBP 5 million or GBP 2 million can only apply for a permanent status after 3 years and 5 years respectively, which means that the more invested, the earlier the PR status can be obtained.
Nevertheless, the program is a good choice for high-net-worth individuals, for there is no quota limit for applicants as it is for immigrant investor programs of major countries, for instance, Canada Quebec Immigrant Investor Program (QIIP).
Turkey Citizenship by Investment
Turkey Citizenship by Investment program is also a popular choice for HNWIs who want to obtain a second passport. Applicants only need to make a deposit of USD 500,000, and then they can obtain Turkey passport directly.
The program distinguishes itself with one of the lowest CIP DD indexes, which demonstrates how rigor the due diligence is for a CIP program. According to The CIP Due Diligence Index released by Chetcuti Cauchi Advocates, a global law firm, the overall score of Turkey Citizenship by Investment program is 31 out of 100, which is the second lowest among all programs on the list.
There is no further worry for maintaining the status, as there are no residency requirements. What' s more, with the Turkey passport, which can be directly acquired upon through this program, holders can travel to the U.S. easily in that Turkey is one of the E-2 visa treaty countries.
Portugal Golden Visa (fund investment)
Portugal Golden Visa (fund investment) is an alternative option with capital protected investment as its most outstanding feature. The program allows applicants to acquire the residence permit by making a minimum investment of EUR 350,000 in designated funds in Portugal. After obtaining the Golden Visa for 5 years, holders can apply for Portugal permanent residency.
Compared with other immigrant investor programs, this program requires a much smaller amount of capital protected investment. Therefore, it is most suitable for those who want to immigrate neither by property purchase nor by business startup.
It would be very easy for holders to maintain the Golden Visa, as they only need to stay in Portugal for 7 days in the first year after obtaining it and for 14 days in each following 2-year period. Such a short period of time is roughly equivalent to an annual vacation.
Ireland Immigrant Investor Programme (IIP)
Ireland Immigrant Investor Programme (IIP) is a straightforward path to the country’s permanent residency. By making an EUR 500,000 philanthropic endowment to approved project, applicants can become Ireland permanent residents. After that, there are no other financial obligations.
In order to maintain the Ireland PR status, the residency requirement is even easier to be met than that of Portugal Golden Visa (fund investment). Successful applicants only need to stay in Ireland for 1 day each year, and the status can be renewed for unlimited times.
For those who want to apply for Ireland citizenship, the application for naturalization is allowed as early as five years after they have acquired the permanent residency. As a Common Travel Area exists between Ireland and the UK, Ireland citizens have the right to live in the UK legitimately as long as they plan to settle down in the UK. Thus, the program has long been regarded as a springboard for UK status.
As stated in the program law, a minimum investment of EUR 400,000 per applicant will qualify if five or more investors wish to contribute their endowments together to one approved project.
"To stay or not is always a question lingering in (Hong Kong) people's mind," said Hannah Ma, Globevisa Overseas Business Development Director, "but it is not bad to have an alternative course of action." In such cases, immigrant investor programs of the UK, Turkey, Portugal or Ireland are definitely good choices.
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